How to Use Lists to Help You Organize Your RV Trips

If you are planning on taking an RV trip, you will want to make sure that you have everything you need once you leave home.

The best way to do is to prepare a series of checklists that will

  • keep you from forgetting important items,
  • help you to organize your packing and
  • help in the prevention of accidents.

If you set them up on spreadsheets you can use them for all future vacations, no matter the type or season.
This article, will give you the guidelines you need to make them effective and easy to follow. (with special permission)

Types of Lists to Consider

If you travel in motor home or camper, you will need more than one type of checklist.

Here are some you may want to use along with explanations about why they may be necessary:

House Preparation: Things you need to do at home to prepare it for sitting empty for a period of time.

General Packing: For daily use items such as linens, clothing, cleaning and cooking items.

Food: For making sure you have the right types of foods and liquids with you when you travel.

Health and Personal Care: For items such as medicine, over the counter health care items and cosmetics.

Office: For items such as laptops, office supplies, cameras and other digital equipment you may need to have as you travel.

Hobby and Sports: For those extras you want to take with you to help you enjoy your trips more, such as fishing gear, golf clubs, toys and games.

Set Up/Break Down: Reminds you about things you need to do after you arrive or before you leave your campsite.

Pre-Trip Reminder Lists

People don't often realize the importance of preparing their houses to be left vacant for long periods of time.

In the rush of last minute loading, it is easy to forget to make sure the house is safe from accidents, crime and unnecessary expenses.

Items you should put on this list include, but are not limited to

  • locking all doors and windows,
  • unplugging lamps and small appliances,
  • notifying your credit card company that you will be out of town,
  • closing curtains and blinds,
  • setting AC at 80 so that electricity is not wasted,
  • turning off the hot water heater,
  • installing hurricane shutters if necessary,
  • turning off water (to avoid flooding),
  • unplugging computers (to protect against power surges),
  • calling the post office to hold your mail or making other arrangements for it,
  • putting your second car in the garage,
  • emptying, cleaning and sanitizing the refrigerator (to avoid food spoilage),
  • spraying the inside and outside of the house with pesticide,
  • emptying all trash cans and washing them,
  • stopping magazine and newspaper delivery and
  • arranging for someone to check the house periodically.
While it takes time to do all of these things, know that forgetting even one of them can create serious problems for you. Using this list can keep that from happening.

High Need Items

In addition to the every day items you will need to take, there are some I term "high need". for obvious reasons, these and other similar things should be on that list:

  • a battery charger,
  • a water pressure regulator,
  • extra sewer and water hoses,
  • a fan (in case your AC stops working),
  • electronic adapters (50 and 30 amp),
  • a tire gauge,
  • a first aid kit,
  • spare tires for the RV and car,
  • a basic tool kit,
  • an extension cord,
  • and a set of wheel chocks.

Non-Perishable Items

When loading your coach, non-perishables can go in before your trip, while others must wait until the day you plan to leave. Some, such as certain cleaning items, you can leave on board once you have loaded them.

You will need several lists because items fall into a variety of catgories.

Things you can load ahead of time fall into the category of non perishables such as

  • daily use items such as linens, dishes and cooking utensils,
  • tools such as levels, hand tools and compressors,
  • hobbies and sports such as fishing gear, crafts items and bikes,
  • entertainment items such as DVDs, games and cards,
  • office supplies such as tablets, calculators and maps
  • and technology items such as laptops, cell phones and GPS systems.


Food, medications and personal care items, will have to be packed the same day that you plan to leave. (Make sure to turn on your refrigerator several hours before you load so that food will not spoil.)

The lists for these will be long and will also be highly individualized. For example, food will include such categories as

  • fresh fruits and vegetables,
  • canned goods,
  • bread, cookies and crackers
  • seasonings,
  • meats, fish and poultry and
  • snacks.

Each will list the specific items you want to take with you.

The same will be true of personal care items. Things such as

  • makeup,
  • lotions and creams,
  • shampoo,
  • soap 
  • and other similar items.

Medications are extremely important items to list because some may be difficult or impossible to find when you are vacationing.

These lists will include all

  • prescription drugs,
  • over the counter drugs,
  • ice packs, heating pads, canes
  • and other items you may need to support your personal health needs.

Since there are so many items that you will need to pack, trying to do so without a written list to guide you would be very difficult.

Set Up/Break Down Lists

Since there are a number of things you must remember to do either when setting up or breaking down your campsite, you should have lists for each segment that includes such chores as

Set Up:

  • putting wheel chocks in place,
  • properly positioning your antenna,
  • properly positioning your steps,
  • putting awnings down and securing them,
  • setting up your TV stations,
  • putting exterior furniture in place 
  • and opening blinds and curtains.

Break Down:

  • making sure external doors are closed,
  • dumping holding tanks,
  • walking around the unit to make sure you leave nothing behind,
  • clearing counter tops,
  • securing drawers and doors,
  • lowering the antenna,
  • closing awnings,
  • making sure entry steps are closed 
  • and locking all doors and windows.

RV Travel Check Lists Are A Very Useful Tool

I have heard people say they don't bother taking a lot of things with them because they can always buy them as needed.

My answer to that is if you are in Yellowstone National Park in the middle of the night and need some Preparation H, you better hope somebody remembered to pack it!

I guarantee you that the very item you will need the most will be the one you won't have if you don't use lists to remind you about what you need to have with you.

Clearly, people cannot take everything with them when they travel, but there are some things that should always be available.

Creating effective and specific RV travel lists assures that you will prepare well for your vacation, have what you need when you need it and be able to avoid worrying about your house while you are away.

A well organized RV traveler is a happy camper!
RV Tips: Packing For Your Trip